Is Randy Gumbley "Derek Clarke?"

Over the past few months, word has emerged that someone has been trying to put together a union for CHL players, to “…represent all CHL players in a manner that is fair and equitable, always keeping in mind the physical, mental, educational and financial well-being of each player now and in the future.”

They’d like to have education money for the players put in a trust, and to see them compensated when their images are used for things like video games. Georges Laraques was named head of the proposed union.

It all sounds fine and dandy, until you hear that it isn’t. The man behind getting the union organized, “Derek Clarke,” seems to be somewhat of a ghost. Aside from Laraques, few people, if anyone, has actually met him in person.

There are concerns that “Derek Clarke” may in fact by Randy Gumbley, a man who’s been convicted of two counts of fraud, fittingly coming from scamming minor hockey teams, one of which involved using an alias.

Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun wrote about the situation yesterday:

In an on-camera interview with TVA sports reporter Stephane Gonzalez Wednesday, Laraque identified a photograph of Gumbley, saying it was Derek Clarke. Then, in a subsequent interview, he denied the two were the same man.

Tough start.

Laraque has since made a point to note that Randy Gumbley has “nothing to do with us.”

The CHL has had so much trouble getting in touch with Derek Clarke, that CHL president David Branch said they’ve had to retain a private investigator just to figure out who the man is.

More from Warmington:

“Our big issue involving Derek Clarke was determining who he was,” Branch said.

He said there has been “growing concern” over this mysterious person no one from the CHL had met, he said. In the interest of the security of the players, the league began to take a look into his background.

“I can tell you I had never met him and do not know anybody whoever has,” said Branch.

Branch said he had in recent times e-mailed executive director Georges Laraque about a potential meeting with the union, but added “I don’t know who you are,” meaning who was behind the union.

After TSN took to the airwaves in an excellent segment by Dave Naylor to explain their confusion over who Derek Clarke is (they’ve spoken to two Derek Clarkes, apparently – you can, and should check out the video titled “Mystery Man” here that I can’t embed because TSN hates getting video views), Georges Laraque tweeted the following:

Laraque has had some other trouble of late, as somebody apparently loosened the bolts on his tire and put him in a dangerous situation.

 

Likely unrelated, I’m just pointing out: the guy has had a tough go lately.

The CHLPA is up for certification in a couple days, and in light of the recent development, released the following statement:

The CHLPA categorically denies that Randy Gumbley has any official position with the CHLPA.

It has been brought to our attention that the CHL hired a private investigator to find out who the union’s supporters are. Under Canadian Labour Law policy, the employer is NOT entitled to know which players have applied for membership in the union–membership evidence is confidential as between the union and the relevant labour relations board. It’s convenient that this topic has been brought up 2 days before a certification is to take place in Cape Breton.

The CHLPA’s lawyers are reviewing the CHL’s and WHL’s involvement to determine which legal proceedings should be taken. This includes defamation and unfair labour practice complaints for unlawful interference in the formation and administration of a trade union.

This issue is more than a smokescreen it’s a high-handed union busting tactic to undermine the union in the eyes of the players. It’s outrageous!

This will be the last statement from the CHLPA regarding this topic. The CHLPA is going to focus it’s resources and energy on organizing in the certification applications already before the various labour boards.

The “It’s outrageous!” line is pretty hilarious. You don’t see a whole lot of exclamation marks in press releases these days.

Anyway, we’re not to the bottom of the story yet, but we’ll be updating this as we find out more. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this point by Scott Lewis: